A Beginner’s Thanksgiving: 7 Recipes That Lighten the Workload

There’s nothing more scary than Thanksgiving dinner for a novice cook. It’s not often that a civilian is asked to knock out a long succession of dishes, including a giant bird, for a crowd with fixed ideas of how it should all be done.

That’s not the only option. The goal of this project was to provide a simplified menu for novices or anyone who wishes to acquire the same flavour touchstones without putting in extra effort.

Sheet pan and large skillet are all that’s required to make most of the recipes. This means you don’t have to perform any mental or physical gymnastics when using the oven.

Thanksgiving: 7 Recipes

There are only a few basic ingredients needed for these recipes, and many of those are used in other dishes on the menu as well. Don’t bother with fresh herbs; they’re just another thing to wash. As an alternative, use a single dried herb, such oregano or thyme, to provide a consistent flavour throughout the dish.

Avoid the frantic last-minute cooking scramble, as well. In order to save time, it’s recommended that you prepare much of this menu the day before. (3 to 4 hours is a reasonable estimate) Put on a podcast, get your apron on, and go to work. The turkey can wait till the day after Thanksgiving.

Turkey Breast

Cooking a bone-in turkey breast is a lot easier than cooking a complete turkey; it just takes a fraction of the time and still feeds a large group. Roasting a turkey the same way I do a chicken is my preferred method: butter, salt, and pepper liberally applied before roasting at a moderate temperature.

On Thanksgiving Day, the last thing you want to do is hustle to create gravy from the turkey’s hot pan drippings right before dinnertime. Nutritional yeast, an umami enhancer, is optional in this make-ahead variation, which is based on caramelised red onion.


Pizza’s red-sauce flavours work perfectly as a custardy stuffing encased in a cheese crust on Thanksgiving. This soothing recipe relies heavily on tomato paste and dried oregano, which are flowered in the buttery onions and helped by an ivory rain of shredded mozzarella.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be mashed with butter, cream, roasted garlic, and loads of salt, much like regular potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be baked in the oven rather than boiled in big pots of water, which not only saves time but also concentrates their flavour.

Beautiful Salad

With radicchio and canned artichokes, snappy cooked green beans form a beautiful salad. To make this zesty side dish, all you need is a liberal drizzle of olive oil, plenty of salt and pepper, and a zingy squeeze of lemon.

Cranberry and Orange Relish

A traditional Thanksgiving side dish is cranberry-and-orange relish, but here, a whole lemon — rind and all — adds a harsh, acidic tang. Moreover, the ruby-jeweled brilliance of this concoction makes it look like stained glass.

Vanilla Cookies, Caramel-Fried Apples, and Salted Cinnamon Whipped Cream

As the pudding sits in the refrigerator overnight, it takes on a luscious smoothness. Inevitably, the many components come together: vanilla cookies, caramel-fried apples, and salted cinnamon whipped cream.